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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pissed Off Youth of America: A Call to Action

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

End poverty with just a click. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, huh? Apparently, the smallest possible effort on the part of many privileged people can end a blight that has plagued humanity for millennia. The question is, why hasn’t poverty ended yet? Haven’t we clicked enough? To paraphrase a popular advertisement, how many clicks does it take to get to the center of a humanitarian crisis?

If you chuckled at that opening paragraph, you probably already understand why transformation in our country remains necessary. Yes, we’re dealing with one of the most corrupt administrations in our nation’s history. Yes, we’re wasting billions of dollars in an immoral foreign war without a clear solution. Yes, our economy is sinking deeper into unparalleled lows every day, and the poorest get squeezed most. Yes, our government is steadily encroaching on our civil liberties with little resistance. Yes, dissent is widely considered unpatriotic and theocracy is suddenly in style. Yes, we have bought into a binary political system manipulated by the media and corporations. Yes, Kanye, George Bush doesn’t particularly care about black people. But when the youth of America respond to these crises with facebook campaigns, we know that only a revolution can change the dire course we’ve chosen for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook is an excellent networking tool, and the “Click to End Poverty” site has some great resources. (I can guarantee that you’ll find some edited version of this text in a facebook group soon.) But we can’t change our country from our laptops. It’s just that simple.

George Bush doesn’t wake up every morning and check the stats on the “Citizens Against the North American neo-Conservative Agenda/Movement” facebook group. Karl Rove doesn’t hear when you rail against him in your living room. And even if Dick Cheney saw the dig you made about his hunting incident in your sketch comedy group, he’d still have the power to control our country’s foreign policy decisions.

I started the organization Pissed Off Youth of America (P.O.Y.A.), because I was tired of hearing my peers and elders reminisce about the sixties while lamenting our generation’s apathy. “If this were the sixties, we’d be out in the streets protesting!” the cynics cried. Well, guess what? It’s not the sixties. And we’re still mad as hell.

Who are “we?” Liberal middle class college students? New York intellectuals? Poor people struggling to survive in an ailing economy? Conservatives who hate what the current administration has done under the guise of conservativism? Christians who hate what the current administration has done under the guise of Christianity? Ultimately, we are all Americans. And whether you’re seventeen or seventy, if you have the energy and courage to go out in the streets and speak your mind, you belong in P.O.Y.A.

P.O.Y.A. doesn’t care about where you come from, what you do for a living, how much money you make, or the color of your skin. What we do care about is your voice, your ideas, your, beliefs and your dreams. Democracy isn’t a one-question multiple-choice test with two possible answers. There’s a reason both major candidates in the U.S. presidential campaign want to capture the slogan of “change.” But our nation can only move forward if we unite behind the common cause of transformation through our actions beyond a single ballot box decision.

Governments don’t usually like angry young people, nor do the corporate or media elites. They make it difficult to push through partisan agendas and make immoral mandates. But we can’t call this country a democracy if the majority of people despise our government’s actions. Nor can we export democracy when we still haven’t achieved it ourselves.

Many people have tried to tell me that my goals are unrealistic because I have such high expectations. “People don’t take you seriously,” they tell me. That’s fine. I’ll march in the streets alone if I must. But I refuse to believe that’s necessary. “You can’t have a non-partisan revolution,” they tell me. Then I suppose we’ll have to do politically segregated protests. But I don’t think our country needs that.

You are about to read an entire section of this paper devoted to P.O.Y.A. manifestos. In this movement each person writes his or her own manifesto. The revolution begins when each individual realizes that he or she has a voice and the power to bring about transformation in this country. But it can only succeed if we come together as angry, hopeful young people that believe in change through free speech.

The ball’s in your court, youth of America. And this time, a click won’t cut it.